Hlaudi Motsoeneng on SABC not televising Chiefs in Champions League final: ‘They must be removed’

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture inquiry in September 2019. He was testifying on allegations made against him at the inquiry.
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture inquiry in September 2019. He was testifying on allegations made against him at the inquiry.
Image: Masi Losi

Outspoken Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the Champions League final between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly on Saturday night would have been televised live by the SABC if he was still in charge at the public broadcaster.

The SABC announced on Friday morning that it was surprised and disappointed that the rights for the match had been exclusively sold to pay channel SuperSport despite the public broadcaster having agreed to the asking price.

Former SABC CEO Motsoeneng alleged that the final is not being televised on the free-to-air broadcaster because the organisation does not have capable people with the necessary negotiating skills to secured the rights He said they should be removed from their positions.

“If I was there‚ I can tell you they would be broadcasting that match tomorrow evening‚” he told TimesLIVE on Friday.

“They don’t know how to negotiate and they don’t have the expertise. You can’t be led by people who are complaining about other broadcasters.

“If you are a leader‚ you must come up with solutions. Maybe they don’t understand the public broadcaster or what is the role of the public broadcaster.

“They must be removed. There is no SABC after I left and that one is a given fact.

“There is evidence that after I left there is no longer a SABC. Like

“During my time‚ I was able to bring Bafana Bafana and you may remember there were a few matches for the SABC from the SuperSport deal with the PSL [Premier Soccer League]‚ but I made sure we were on par.”

In response to Motsoeneng’s criticism‚ Gary Rathbone‚ general manager for sport at the SABC‚ said he had worked in the sports television field for more than 20 years  and knew its intricacies.

“I’ve got more than 20 years’ experience in the sports rights and sports media industry and my experience speaks for itself. I don’t have more to say‚” said Rathbone.

Motsoeneng claimed when he arrived at the SABC as acting COO around 2011‚ sports were barely televised as the broadcaster had lost most of its contracts in that regard. He said he worked tirelessly to bring sport back to free-to-air screens.

“When I arrived at the SABC around 2011‚ sport generally was a blackout. You  remember that the PSL went to MultiChoice [SuperSport]. The SABC was not able to broadcast Bafana Bafana matches and the same goes for all the sporting codes.

“I prioritised sports because I knew that in the absence of sports you don’t have an audience. I beat MultiChoice during negotiations on many occasions‚ especially when it came to sports or events of national interest.

“If I failed to get the rights outright‚ I would make sure the SABC would broadcast at the same time as MultiChoice.

“When I checked their [the SABC’s] statement [on the rights for the Champipons League final]‚ they are complaining about MultiChoice getting the exclusive rights‚ but I have never seen any leader complaining about other people.

“Citizens expect the SABC to broadcast the match between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly because it is a big match for their audience and for South African sports lovers.”

The SABC complained in their statement on Friday morning that they had tried to attain the rights to the final‚ but were denied.

“Despite the SABC meeting Caf’s asking price for the free-to-air rights‚ the offer was rejected on the basis that Caf has signed an exclusive deal with SuperSport that covers all rights‚ including the free-to-air rights‚ for this match‚” the statement read.